Cast Iron

Gaddina Limuni Sicilianu (Sicilian Lemon Chicken)

May 30, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by Jess Lewis
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This farmhouse dish is a nod to my Sicilian heritage and the small farming village where my Grandmother grew up. From my visits when I was a little girl, I remember tons of fruit and olive trees, roaming chickens, and air wonderfully pungent with the scent of the Mediterranean. Olives, Sicilian lemons, and oregano are all quite prominent in this chicken recipe making it a perfect light, yet hardy, spring time dish. I recommend serving it with a shaved fennel salad and a nice dry rosé. —Jess Lewis

What You'll Need
  • For the marinade
  • 1/2 cup Sicilian olives (pitted)
  • 2 tablespoons olive brine
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the main dish
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh oregano (chopped)
  • 3 pounds small potatoes (I like to mix both white and baby red)
  • 2 medium sweet onions (Walla Walla or Maui are best)
  • 8 pieces bone-in chicken thighs with skin
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup Sicilian olives (pitted)
  • 1/4 cup olive brine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Purée all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor or small blender until they become a soft paste. You’re looking for the consistency of a thick dressing so add a little more olive oil if it’s too thick.
  3. Coat chicken pieces with marinade in a shallow dish and cover. Liberally season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Refrigerate and let marinate 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Add remaining olive oil, oregano, and garlic to a large roasting pan or dutch oven.
  5. Halve onions and slice them into 1/4” slices. Quarter potatoes. Add onions and potatoes to the roasting pan and toss well to coat with the olive oil and oregano.
  6. Season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  7. Slice remaining 2 lemons into 1/8” rounds and add to the top of the potato and onion mixture.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes until the potatoes start to brown around the edges.
  9. Approximately 10 minutes before the potato mixture is ready to come out of the oven, drizzle a cast iron skillet with olive oil and bring to a medium to high heat. If a small drop of water added to the pan sizzles, it’s ready. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, onto the skillet and brown until the skins are crispy (about 5 minutes). This will seal in the juices and create a very nice flavor so don’t skip this step! Trust me, it’s worth it.
  10. Remove roasting pan with the potato mixture from the oven and add remaining olives, brine, water, and the seared chicken (skin side up).
  11. Roast for another 30-45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the largest part of the breast reads 165°F.
  12. Plate and serve immediately.
Contest Entries

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  • Jess Lewis
    Jess Lewis
  • Noelle Knutson
    Noelle Knutson

5 Reviews

Jess L. June 12, 2016
Thanks! I do love that flavor as well. :)
Noelle K. June 7, 2016
I made this recipe with the intention of reviewing it for the contest. Unfortunately, I missed the deadline, but I would still like to give feedback. First of all, this meal tastes absolutely delicious. The classic flavor combination works wonderfully together. There are a lot of steps to this dish that you'll need to plan ahead for such as the six hour marinade time. I found the idea of putting the olive paste on top of the chicken to marinade and then trying to crisp up the skin an awkward instruction. The olive paste covers the skin so the skin really cannot crisp up. One option would be to put the paste under the skin, but for a one pot, country meal, that seems like a lot of extra work. The potatoes, lemons, onions and olives are delicious and the chicken bastes them all and creates a lick your plate juicy sauce. Quantities, seasonings and instructions were all good otherwise.
Jess L. June 7, 2016
Thank you for the feedback, Noelle! I'm so tickled that you loved the taste of the finished dish. I appreciate the notes about the crisping and will figure out a better way to articulate it. If the directions have you rub the paste all over the chicken, rather than coat the chicken which wasn't super clear that it was meant to go all over, do you think that would that work better? It does take about 5 minutes of high heat to crisp up the chicken skin (which also crisps the olive paste a bit). Thank you again for your comments!
Noelle K. June 8, 2016
You're welcome! The skin still tasted good, I like the crisp olive taste. It is possible that the texture of my olive marinade was thicker as well.
Jess L. June 12, 2016
Thanks! I do love that flavor as well. :)